Blog

Anthropogenic disturbances across Boreal Canada – short presentation

Here is a link to a recording of a presentation I gave to the Arctic Boreal Carbon Upscaling workshop in October 2020 on anthropogenic disturbances across Boreal Canada

Sphagnum-inspired R colour palette 

* Update *

Using this code from Paul Julian https://gist.github.com/SwampThingPaul/6085a3066910e4c86eefca27bac3874d

I was able to create this:

Rplot

We all know that Sphagnum come in a beautiful array of colours so, inspired by Paul Julian (https://swampthingecology.org/) I decided to create a Sphagnum-palette for use in R (using the code found here: here)

Feel free to make your plots as mossy as possible now

Nature-based Climate Solutions Summit, Ottawa 2020

Back in February I was fortunate enough to be invited to sit on the Wetlands panel at the first ever Nature-based Climate Solutions Summit at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (situated on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe territory). This event was attended by over 400 people from a range of backgrounds including academia, government, NGOs and indigenous groups. The goal of this summit was ‘to increase our collective knowledge of nature-based climate solutions and to help chart a path forward’.

The full report of the summit can be here

The specific wetland supplement can be found here

#LegoYourScience

Part of my research is looking at seismic line disturbances on ecosystem functioning. Seismic lines are linear clearings cut across the boreal forest which can have big implications for vegetation communities, hydrological conditions and soil properties. I thought it would be a useful sci-comm tool to make a lego stop motion of the creation of a seismic line:

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2019 round up

Well that’s nearly my 2nd year as a postdoc up. 2019 has had some awesome highs but also had some lows. Given that, I thought it would be nice to have a run down of the year:

HIGHS:

  • My postdoc was renewed for another two years which is super exciting and I also got ‘adjunct assistant professor’ status. I love our lab and my research here and I feel super grateful I get to continue on for a little while longer!
  • Professionally, 2019 was probably my most successful year. I was lucky enough to get three lead author papers out this year on some really interesting topics. I also got one co-author paper out there. Looking forward to hopefully getting some interesting stuff out there in 2020 – my paper-to-write list is looking exciting.
  • I also co-won my first proper grant this year. I’ll post more information soon about it but I am really looking forward to working on that project.
  • Started officially co-supervising a MSc student.
  • Went to Vancouver in February as part of the Natural Climate Solutions for Canada project – can’t wait for the paper to be out (not sure when however).
  • Got to present some really cool science at EGU in Vienna in April and at an invited talk at McMaster University in November.
  • Visited 9 different field sites this summer. Highlight being flying across the boreal in a helicopter. We saw some beautiful peatlands and watched a momma bear and 3 cubs play a long a seismic line. Wish I was able to get a photo!
  • Had a nice profile of me written by the Graduate studies and Postdoctoral studies department at the University of Waterloo

LOWS:

  • Even though it has been a super successful year, it has come at a slight price to my mental health. I like to be quite open about my anxiety and unfortunately rather than enjoy the success, my brain likes to take it upon itself to focus on the negatives – all the stuff I didn’t get done this year or the papers that weren’t published. However, I am putting things in place to help get rid of this mind set. Therapy really is worth it!
  • I had three big grant/fellowship rejections this year. Rejection is, as we all know, part and parcel of academia but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m finding it frustrating however that not one of the funding bodies I applied to was willing to give me any feedback on my applications. It is really hard to try and improve on something that wasn’t good enough but you don’t know where you went wrong.
  • Alongside this, I have not been successful in getting an interview for any of the faculty positions I have applied for this year. I am hoping that changes in 2020, it would be nice to get past the first hurdle. It is interesting being from the UK but doing a postdoc in Canada – the timelines of a postdoc are quite different between the two – still trying to get my head around that!

2020 promises to be an incredibly exciting year and I am involved in some really awesome projects including the Global Peatland Initiative Canadian workshop at RE3 Quebec in June.

I am also really trying to get the #PeatTwitter hashtag on Twitter going – so if you tweet about peatlands please try and remember to use it. It will hopefully become a really useful resource.

I am going to try and write more on this blog this year – new years resolutions and all that.

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Fieldwork July-August 2019

Back over to Alberta for some fieldwork looking at seismic line restoration

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Canadian Carbon Cycle Research Workshop 2019

I presented this infographic poster at the Canadian Carbon Cycle Research Workshop 2019 in Toronto, ON on what we think are the existing knowledge gaps in understanding the future of Canadian carbon cycle research;

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AGU 2018 and EGU 2019

I was fortunate enough to present a poster at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Washington DC 2018 and a oral presentation at the European Geosciences Union Annual Meeting 2019 on the impact of wildfire on methane emissions and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) dynamics at a continental boreal peatland.

Both papers are under review at the moment. I shall upload an image of the poster once they are published.

Presentation at EGU 2019

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World Wetlands Day 2019

For World Wetlands Day 2019, I put together some tweets highlighting the importance of boreal peatlands: you can see them all here

Here is a snapshot:

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Fieldwork

I have had a fantastic 4 weeks (with one week to go) of fieldwork up in Northern Alberta near Peace River. I have managed to visit an awesome range of different peatlands, impacted by various disturbances (linear disturbances and wildfire for example).

One of the first tasks was to assist with UAV image collection at one of our linear disturbance sites. This was a scientific dream come true as I have wanted to work with UAVs for a long time. I really can’t wait to get a hold of the imagery but for now – here are some photos.

I then headed over to Conklin to collect soil samples across a range of seismic lines in order to establish an understanding of soil compaction across these features.

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240 samples later, I headed up to Fort McMurray to collect yet more soil samples and vegetation data for an incubation experiment I am setting up in the Fall. This site was impacted by The Horse River wildfire in 2016. Part of my current research is looking at how this wildfire impacted methane emissions and dissolved organic carbon across a burn gradient. Some photos below (plus black bear pawprint).

In between all this, we have been collecting CO2 and CH4 flux data at a range of different natural and disturbed sites.

I also managed to squeeze a fleeting visit to the University of Calgary to pick up some RTK equipment.

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This also allowed us to take the very scenic route home through the Banff and Jasper National Parks – the scenery was just stunning.

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PhD Graduation

18th July 2018

After handing in over a year ago, it was finally time to head back to the University of Sheffield for my PhD graduation. It was a fantastic day and was lovely to catch up with my supervisors Dr. Donatella Zona, Prof. Gareth Phoenix and Prof. Dr. Maria J. Santos.

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New Adventure

25th January 2018

Excited to announce I will be starting as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo, ON, Canada. I will be working with Dr. Maria Strack looking at impact of disturbance on restored and natural peatlands and subsequent impacts on carbon emissions and vegetation communities. I cannot wait to start my Canadian adventure!

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Cover star

22nd December 2017

Our article “Upscaling CH4 Fluxes Using High-Resolution Imagery in Arctic Tundra Ecosystems” was chosen as the cover article for the December (Vol 9, Issue 12) of Remote Sensing which is a lovely honour.

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You can check out this paper (and the others in the issue here)

Similarly, this paper was part of a special issue: Remote Sensing of Arctic Tundra . You can check out the other papers here

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PhD is done and dusted

2nd November 2017

I passed my PhD with minor corrections which was incredibly exciting. I haven’t been that nervous in a long time and I thought I might pass out during the first ten minutes. I had a really good discussion with my examiners Dr. Iain Hartley and Professor Colin Osbourne.

I thought I’d just add a picture of me on the day of submitting my thesis (11th August 2017)20664114_10159199104590611_4579984634630805069_n

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Resourcefulness and resilience in the Arctic tundra

My research was highlighted here: Resourcefulness and resilience in the Arctic tundra

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Lego Tundra

I’m a bit of a Lego fanatic so I thought it would be fun to make a diagram using Lego to illustrate what happens to arctic tundra ecosystems if they become wetter or drier

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If anyone else has #legoyourscience – please let me know! I should really try and make some other diagrams…

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Biotweeps

I hosted Biotweeps for a week (26th September – 2nd October 2016). I had a fantastic time showcasing all things tundra. You can check out my archive of tweets here

I would really encourage anyone out there to take part – it was a fantastic experience I learned a lot about using social media to engage in science outreach. You can sign up here

That week also unleashed the hashtag #fieldworkscares to the world. It became much bigger than I anticipated but it was enlightening (and rather scary) to see the various ways in which fieldwork can be quite nerve wracking. It was even featured on The Verge website.